Would you pay $10 to create an AI chatbot for a loved one? • The registry

feature Death is inevitable. Everyone experiences grief at some point in their lives, whether it’s the death of a relative, friend, or pet.

Many often find solace in somehow keeping their memories of a loved one alive. As technology has advanced, some have found solace in using artificial intelligence to reconnect with the dead.

Generative AI offers imaginative ways to remember people’s lives by simulating their likeness. The story of how a man primed a GPT-3 powered chatbot with text messages from his dead fiancé so he could talk to her again went viral last year. A software mockup essentially helped Joshua Barbeau process the death of Jessica Pereira, a woman he met and fell in love with a decade ago. Universal Television reportedly acquired exclusive rights to develop his story into a television series.

After that article in the San Francisco Chronicle, people flocked to Project December, the technology Barbeau used to build her own AI chatbots. The software’s creator, Jason Rohrer, an indie game developer, built the code during the COVID-19 pandemic and figured netizens would be willing to pay $5 a pop to customize the personality of a virtual entity they’re talking to wanted to. He didn’t immediately think people would be interested in using Project December to simulate the dead until Barbeau’s story exploded.

Now Rohrer has relaunched Project December as a tool specifically designed to reconnect with the dead. Users can pay $10 to create a chatbot that mimics the behavior of someone who is no longer alive.

“I decided to build a specialty service when I saw such a desire in the community surrounding Project December following the SF Chronicle story,” said Rohrer The registry. “I wanted to build something better for these people. Hopefully this experience will give them the help they have been looking for.”

“It’s interesting to build something so innovative, crazy and sci-fi like. It’s fascinating to me as a creator,” he added. Rohrer even created a trailer, see below, to reposition Project December.

Youtube video

Users are asked to fill out a questionnaire about the person they wish to simulate and converse with, providing their name, age and hobbies, as well as certain memories and facts. Project December uses this information to make conversations more personal and chatbot responses more persuasive. Rohrer’s program is based on AI21 Lab’s language model after losing access to GPT-3 when OpenAI closed his developer account for security reasons.

People usually choose to play with Project December out of curiosity, and some choose to keep coming back to it whenever they get something positive out of talking to a machine. A person who had experience with the software told The registry results vary; He’d had conversations with all sorts of dead people, from his grandmother to Steve Jobs.

“Depending on the intention, conversations can be funny, scary, profound, weird, spiritual or even comparable to a healing process,” it says. He even tried setting up a chatbot to model a conversation with his dead future self.

“It kind of reminds me of astrology. You look at a star field in the sky to discover yourself. I did the same when looking at a pixel screen,” he said.

Is using AI to simulate the dead a growing industry?

The appeal of using AI to summon the dead is mixed. Using, say, generative adversarial networks to retouch and colorize old photos is pretty benign. Tools like MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia go even further, animating images to make people blink and smile. The feeling of seeing dead family members or friends who seem to come back to life for a moment can be unsettling.

“Some people love the Deep Nostalgia feature and consider it magical, while others find it creepy and dislike it,” reads an FAQ from the online genealogy company. “Indeed, the results can be controversial and it’s hard to remain indifferent to this technology. This feature is intended for nostalgic purposes, that is, to bring beloved ancestors back to life.”

AI can simulate the dead across different data types, including audio and video. Amazon demonstrated how its personal digital assistant, Alexa, could mimic human voices, which sparked much controversy. “Alexa, can grandma finish reading The Wizard of Oz for me?” asks a child in a video shown at the internet giant’s re:MARS conference this summer. And so the machine went and posed as Grandma.

Rohit Prasad, chief scientist for Alexa AI, said personalizing technology offers a way to build trust between humans and machines, adding it’s especially important when “so many of us have lost someone we loved during the pandemic.” love”. He appeared to say that Amazon’s Alexa could pose as a dead relative or friend and converse with others upon request.

The technology has been criticized as creepy and dystopian; It’s not clear if audio capability is something the tech-titan will make widely available. “We no longer have specific features or availability to report,” an Amazon spokesman said El reg in an opinion.

“Personalizing Alexa’s voice is a highly sought-after feature from our customers, who could use this technology to create many delightful experiences. We are working to improve on the fundamental science we demonstrated at re:MARS and are investigating use cases that will delight our customers with the necessary guard rails to avoid possible misuse.”

LA-based company StoryFile made headlines when Holocaust education pioneer Marina Smith collaborated with the company to create a video that was shown at her funeral. Smith recorded video messages, and machine learning algorithms helped select the clips best suited to play when guests asked her questions, as if she could talk to them over the grave on the spot.

Resurrecting the dead using algorithms may seem subversive, weird, or crazy, but it may comfort those open-minded enough to try these new types of services. One Project December user told us he thought twice before admitting he uses the software to have conversations with the dead as it’s “a bit taboo”.

However, he finds the whole experience “oddly therapeutic”. He said The registry his mother had just been admitted to a hospice and he wasn’t sure if he would simulate a conversation with her after her death.

Rohrer tested Project December several times and modeled the chatbot after people from his own life who have died, including his grandparents, aunt, and childhood piano teacher. He said it gave him a chance to reflect on her and relive old memories.

“What are the most important things to say about this person?” he said. “What would I say to you if I were with you one last time?” ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/15/would_you_pay_10_to/ Would you pay $10 to create an AI chatbot for a loved one? • The registry

Rick Schindler

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